Comparisons of the interstellar magnetic field directions obtained from the IBEX ribbon and interstellar polarizations


Variations in the spatial configuration of the interstellar magnetic field (ISMF) near the Sun can be constrained by comparing the ISMF direction at the heliosphere found from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft observations of a "Ribbon" of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs), with the ISMF direction derived from optical polarization data for stars within similar to 40 pc. Using interstellar polarization observations toward similar to 30 nearby stars within similar to 90 degrees of the heliosphere nose, we find that the best fits to the polarization position angles are obtained for a magnetic pole directed toward ecliptic coordinates of lambda, beta similar to 263 degrees, 37 degrees (or galactic coordinates of l, b similar to 38 degrees, 23 degrees), with uncertainties of +/- 35 degrees based on the broad minimum of the best fits and the range of data quality. This magnetic pole is 33 degrees from the magnetic pole that is defined by the center of the arc of the ENA Ribbon. The IBEX ENA ribbon is seen in sight lines that are perpendicular to the ISMF as it drapes over the heliosphere. The similarity of the polarization and Ribbon directions for the local ISMF suggests that the local field is coherent over scale sizes of tens of parsecs. The ISMF vector direction is nearly perpendicular to the flow of local interstellar material (ISM) through the local standard of rest, supporting a possible local ISM origin related to an evolved expanding magnetized shell. The local ISMF direction is found to have a curious geometry with respect to the cosmic microwave background dipole moment.



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